Whiskey Warmer at Westhaven will take place on March 11. Whether you are a beginner whiskey drinker or a seasoned whiskey drinker, we found these five things from Whiskey Business you should know about whiskey before you head out to the event. Tickets are still available for purchase at Whiskey Warmer website.
Before you do anything, look at the whiskey. You can learn a lot about your whiskey by its color. Generally speaking, the darker the whiskey, the older it is because whiskey gets its color from being in contact with the oak barrel during aging.
The type of barrel also matters. For example, if a Scotch whiskey is being aged in a bourbon barrel that has been used several times over, it’s not going to pick up much color from the barrel. However, if that same whiskey was put in a cask that contained sherry or port wine, it will pick up some of the colors of the wine, in addition to those of oak barrel.
Realize that you can smell more from your whiskey than you will ever be able to taste. In fact, all the master blenders work primarily by nosing, not by tasting. So do yourself a favor and smell your whiskey before you taste it. Don’t thrust your nose into the glass, because the alcohol will be too dominant. Gently raise the whiskey up to your nose until you begin capturing its aroma.
Think about what you smell. Often, but not always, a whiskey’s aroma will be a good indication of how it will taste.
Now go ahead and taste the whiskey. Make sure you coat your entire tongue and let it linger on the palate for a little while before swallowing. Is it thick on your palate or thin? What flavors do you taste? Does the whiskey taste the same way it smells? Do the flavors evolve on the palate or just stay the same? After you swallow, does the flavor fade away quickly or does it linger on the palate? Most importantly, did you like it?
For many of you, the alcohol will just be too intense to fully appreciate the whiskey. I recommend that you add a little water to your whiskey, then nose and taste the whiskey again, I suggest that you add a little bit at a time (a few drops) and keep adding until you find your comfort zone. Adding water brings out more of the whiskey’s aroma. It also lowers the alcohol level, reducing its numbing effect on the palate.
What’s its strength?
All whiskeys must contain at least 40% alcohol by volume (ABV), or 80 proof (proof is twice the alcohol level.), though there are whiskeys on the market that are over 70% ABV (140 proof). Usually, after whiskey is taken from the barrel, water is added to bring it down to the strength that the producer wants to sell it at. Sometimes a whiskey is bottled at the same strength it came out of the barrel. This is often referred to on the label as Barrel Proof or Natural Cask Strength.
Is it chill-filtered?
A whiskey will get hazy or cloudy if its temperature is lowered (e.g., if ice or cold water is added). Most whiskey companies think cloudy whiskey is unappealing and will hurt sales. To prevent this, before the whiskey is bottled, they chill it down and filter out the components that make it cloudy. Unfortunately, those components (known as congeners) also contribute to a whiskey’s flavor. Some producers bottle the whiskey without chill-filtering, and this is usually identified and explained on the label.